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The six burglars, who stashed their hauls in duvet covers and wheelie bins, have been jailed for a total of 27 years
Burglars who broke into shops with sledgehammers to steal thousands of pounds worth of cigarettes have been jailed.
Six men were sentenced to a total of 27 years and nine months imprisonment on Thursday (February 19), for being part of a conspiracy to burgle commercial premises.
Isleworth Crown Court heard how they targeted six stores, between July and September last year, breaking in with screwdrivers and sledgehammers in the early hours.
Wearing dark clothing and with their faces covered, the court heard they would force open the cigarette cabinet at each store and fill a wheelie bin or duvet cover with tobacco products, before escaping in a vehicle with false registration plates.
Their biggest haul, stolen from a store in Swakeleys Road, Ickenham, was worth £8,000.
The gang, which included members from West Drayton and Hayes, also targeted stores in West Drayton and Uxbridge.
Gavin Horsted, 36, of Uxbridge Road, Hayes, was jailed for four years and six months, after being found guilty by a jury.
Bradley Kearney, 30, of Park Lodge Avenue, West Drayton, was jailed for fours years. He was also found guilty.
Mark Sethi, 33, of North Road, West Drayton, got five years. He had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.
Kaine Brian Robert Grant, 24, of Fir Tree Avenue, West Drayton, was jailed for four years and six months, having also pleaded guilty.
Patrick McDonagh, 24, of no fixed address, was jailed for four years and six months. He, too, had pleaded guilty.
Edward Patrick Jack McGinty, 34, of Yorktown Road, Sandhurst, received a five-year sentence, after also pleading guilty.
Sethi and McGinty were also sentenced for going equipped to steal.
The men were caught following an investigation by the Metropolitan, Surrey and Thames Valley police services.
On September 9 last year, officers from Hillingdon Borough's Crime Squad stopped two vehicles – one with false plates. Inside the vehicles were Kearney, Sethi, McGinty, Grant and McDonagh – all carrying gloves, balaclavas and hand tools.
Horsted was later arrested in another vehicle, which was identified as a result of having stopped the previous two.
Inside his home, officers found balaclavas, gloves and a distinctive duvet cover, which had been used in one of the offences.
Detective Constable Okiki Okunola, from Hillingdon Borough's Crime Squad, said: "This was a very complex investigation involving officers from three policing areas.
"These men thought they would not get caught by committing their crimes across different locations.
"What they failed to realise is that the police will always work together, regardless of their geographic locations, to catch those who try to make a living through criminal activities."
Two schools in the Hillingdon borough will join to become a multi academy trust this weekend.
Ryefield Primary School, in Ryefield Avenue, Hillingdon, will team up with Vyners School, in Warren Road, Ickenham, to become the Vyners Learning Trust on Sunday (February 1).
The partnership will mean the two schools share the same legal entity. As academies, they will receive funding directly from central government, rather than from Hillingdon Council. A Ryefield spokeswoman said this would result in an increase in funding, although she could not say how much.
Already the schools have started working together. Teachers from Vyners lead PE and French lessons at Ryefield, the two schools share teacher training and Vyners students have taken on the role of peer teachers at a Languages Day run by Ryefield.
Vyners headteacher James Heale said: “We are delighted to formalise our partnership with Ryefield School. The new Multi Academy Trust enables us to work even closer together to continue to improve the educational experience of students at both schools, maximise joint professional development opportunities for staff and a focus on learning from three to 19 years.”
Academies were introduced in the UK in 2000 by Tony Blair's Labour government. They are able to set their own curriculums, term times and teachers' salaries. However, the Ryefield spokeswoman said there were no plans to change either of the schools' curriculums.
In Hillingdon, 13 of the borough's 67 primary schools, 16 of its 18 secondary schools and three of its six special schools are academies.